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Administrators gear up for La Crosse school referendum

District Faces Upcoming Referendum

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The La Crosse School District is gearing up for the upcoming referendum.

The amount of money won't change from the past five years, keeping taxes steady - but without that continuation of funds, administrators say students will be the ones to suffer.

When the referendum was first announced more than two months ago, News 8 showed you how it failing would impact class sizes for La Crosse kids and how it would affect technology in the classroom, too.

At a press conference Friday, school officials also addressed the potential for cutting curriculum - meaning without this continuation in funding, some of the school district's more interesting or eclectic classes could be dropped.

"We just want to make sure the public is very much aware that a failed referendum will have deep and lasting impacts in the school district of La Crosse," said Troy Harcey, assistant superintendent of instruction.

He added cuts to the district are inevitable as a result of a $2 million deficit, but without the referendum, those cuts could be deeper than anticipated.

The referendum is essentially a continuation of the one La Crosse taxpayers are already under - it's asking for $20.875 million over five years, or $4.175 million a year. About $3.35 million of that would pay for school programs and staff; $412,500 would go toward technology, and $412,500 would go toward building maintenance.

Taxpayers are already paying that $4.175 million a year, though the proposed referendum would allocate more of that money toward teachers and classroom programs.

Without that money, classes in La Crosse's diverse curriculum could be on the chopping block.

"We have to take a look at our full portfolio of course and program offerings and make the best decision in terms of what we're going to be offering, depending on which direction the referendum goes," Harcey said.

Administrators have yet to take a closer look at which classes would first be hit.

When asked whether the upcoming April vote will ultimately become the never-ending referendum - if, in five years, they'll ask residents again to continue the funding - Harcey said it's very possible they'll ask for a continuation or even more money later down the road, unless some funding changes are made at the state level.

Administrators will hold two public meetings on the upcoming referendum - the first will be held March 15 at Logan High at 10 a.m., and the second will be held March 20 at the Hogan Administrative Building at 6 p.m.

For more information on the referendum, go to <www.lacrosseschools.org.

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